Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other was named Puah; and he said, “When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see upon the birth stool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live. So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and let the boys live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them.” So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty. Because the midwives feared God, He established households for them.
— Exodus 1:15-21, New
American Standard Bible
Have you ever read this? In the Scriptures? Though I often read them, I rarely directly quote the Scriptures — either in writing or in person. It prejudices too many people too quickly. Instead, I try to live by this principle: “Preach the Good News at all times; if necessary, use words.” And then I usually use everyday words rather than speaking in King James’ English, in proverbs or in sound-byte verses.
But this — the story of Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah — is worthy of Scripture quoting. The sentiments in this Bible version — chosen here in honor of my great-grandmother, may she rest peacefully, whose New American Standard I sometimes read — are rich, deep, powerful, telling. Even funny.
What’s this story about? Civil disobedience? Infanticide? Midwifery? Fear? Courage? Blessings?
Oh yes. All that and more.